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HEALING THE MEMORIES OF PAIN AND DIVISION – THE CONFRATERNITY OF PRIESTS IN SIERRA LEONE MOVE TOWARDS PEACE AND RECONCILIATION

Priests in working groups
Priests in working groups

The Sierra Leone Confraternity of Priests met in Mile 91 on January 27, 2017. It was both a retreat and a meeting chaired by Rev. Fr. George Ehusani from Nigeria.

After the opening courtesies, Fr. Ehusani, in his first session gave a clear picture of the Sierra Leone context; a country that has suffered from a terrible civil war, a dreadful epidemic Ebola and bad governance. For citizens depressed, oppressed and traumatized, Fr. Ehusani noted that God can turn tragedy into blessings. He pointed out that as wounded healers we are called to lead others. “He have failed and let down our people but we can start afresh,” Fr. George indicated. In what follows we present key issues in Fr. Ehusani’s address.

The fundamental aspect of Christianity is moving away from the world’s ultimate goals to transcendental ultimate goals. Jesus functions on a different set of parameters – losing life to save it. As priests we are commissioned to help humanity and the flock entrusted to our care to move away for this worldly achievement to transcendental goal. The world needs credible witnesses.

Where are our lives oriented? Priests have not made the required impact in the world because of our ego; false self that dominates. We must seek to discover our real self as found in God, in Christ. The invitation then is to walk towards self discovery and tune self in Christ. We could make a lot more difference but our energies are wrongly directed. How do we discover our true self and channel our energies to our eternal calling. We need to conduct ourselves well following the example of Christ who came “not to be served but to serve” (Mk. 10:45).

The following conclusions were drawn:

  1. What you sow you reap; there is no escape from consequences,
  2. As agents of eternal life, tell people where they need to go. Don’t be bogged down by world issues but have a clear vision statement,
  3. We sometimes forget that we are ambassadors of the heavenly kingdom,
  4. In every sector of life we are a sacrament to our people. Multiple internal crises makes us loss the sacramental sign language,
  5. Lack of unity is a direct affront, a major scandal; sacrifice everyday to build unity
  6. For every action there are consequences
  7. It is not always the person in the right that wins in conflict
  8. Our Lord Jesus Christ works through human mischief. Human crookedness and wickedness cannot frustrate God’s plan; God can turn it round for his own good. Applying this concept to the Church of Sierra Leone means that with God all things are possible
  9. Rejected leaders in history had turned things around. Believe in yourself and have peace,
  10. Look back at your live – the worst traveling of your life can be a blessing.

In the second session Fr. Ehusani shared with us two of his poems – Flames of Truth and Disarm your hearts. He related the poems very well to our problems as a local Church and underscored the need to correct past flaws and move on. Here are some salient points from his talk:
The Christian idea of leadership is service. Material power makes us lose spiritual power. We have configured the priesthood wrongly. We should move beyond populism. Populism can destroy the local Church. Our dignity and true status as priests go far beyond local champions.

The Church is universal and transcends tribal politics. The universality of the Catholic Church and the identity of the priest make him celebrate the Eucharist anywhere in the world. When we forget our identity we dig the ground on which we stand. Ours is a universal dignity and a royal privilege that should not be taken for granted. As priests of our own generation we should not reduce ourselves to champions of local groups. Sectional sentiments can go to extremes. Our call as priests has a universal perspective; we are citizens of the world not local heroes. We are champions of the poor and marginalized everywhere.

Fr. George concluded that what happened in Sierra Leone over the appointment of Bishop Aruna shocked our friends at Missio and all over the world. We let ourselves and our friends down. He called on all present to start a new page in the history of the Church in Sierra Leone. Priests were given the opportunity to ask questions and make comments. The reconciliation process has started in earnest.

Rev. Fr. John Nat Tucker

 

Priests in working groups
Priests in working groups
 
 

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